It’s been over a year now since our separation. You might remember that time: when I left and lived with a relative for six weeks? When no one knew what was really going on so they created lots of rumors? When people called “to see how you are, sweetie” when all they really wanted was to find out juicy tidbits about our problems? When I kept smiling but said little to appease their curiosity?
I like to accentuate the positive in life. Talk about the good things. Gloss over the ugly parts. Keep the struggles hidden. I was also raised with the philosophy that you praise your spouse and publicly build him up. When those things combine in an unhealthy marriage, it results in no one seeing any problems. “The perfect couple.” There were lots of good things! Always have been. I love the man I married!!! But – news flash – there were problems. Not just normal, learning-how-to-be-a-married-couple problems. Bigger stuff.
So, while everyone was telling me that I looked so thin and needed to be doing things differently, I was quietly carrying a lot of pain in my heart. “You never told us that!” I tried. Remember the blog I used to have? The one where I occasionally revealed a glimpse into what was going on? The little clues I left in my casual ramblings, hoping someone would care enough to notice? Either no one ever did, or they just didn’t believe me. That happened a lot, too. I’d trust someone enough to tell them a tiny bit of what was happening, and they’d tell me that couldn’t be true. Surely I just needed to be a better wife. I shouldn’t say such things. So I stopped telling people. Until it came to the point where I was advised by spiritual leaders that I needed to find a safe place for a little while. That was the first time anyone besides my family ever acknowledged this was a real problem.
So I went to a safe place and felt like myself for the first time in years. I hadn’t stopped loving my husband; I was just done being a doormat. After a botched attempt at counseling – don’t ask, it makes me mad how we were treated – things improved enough that I came home after six weeks. I’d never given up on our marriage, but sometimes changes don’t happen unless there is first a drastic action… like a temporary separation.
We’re still together! And I’m not being overly dramatic when I say that’s a miracle. Because no one thought we’d make it. We’ve come a long ways since then. There have been good changes and life is a little better now. True, I’m still hiding things behind my smile, because you honestly don’t want to know. Or need to know. We still have stuff to work through – who doesn’t?! – but I think we’re slowly and steadily making progress.
So why am I saying all this? Why now? Why does it matter?
I’m tired of being pestered about it. I’m tired of hearing that I’m the (a. shameless hussy – it wasn’t phrased that nicely -, b. terrible mother, c. psychotic woman, or d. fill in the blank) who “left her husband.” I’m tired of people insinuating that I wasn’t living for the Lord and I’ll probably leave again.
Pardon me, you might not expect this from the quiet brunette, but you’re dead wrong. Please stop the gossip. The details are none of your business. Your facts are wrong, anyway. I did the hardest thing possible because it was the right thing to do.
Our marriage is continuing to grow. We’re happier. We’re closer. We have beautiful daughters whom we love very much. I’m done looking back; now let’s move forward.